Decking steps ideas are no longer just about the practicalities of joining a decking area to your lawn, they can zone a space and become a feature in their own right.
Installing garden steps can be about adding flair to your garden design — from illuminated uprights to sunken spaces and even inbuilt outdoor kitchens.
Whether you're just starting to sketch out your garden decking ideas or you're improving your existing scheme, you've come to the right place.
Decking steps ideas can transform your garden
Decking steps are more than functional structures; they can be eye-catching design elements that bring character to your outdoor space. If your garden has multiple levels or terraced sections, decking steps provide the perfect solution to link these levels together and assist you in getting from A to B.
From curved steps that offer a touch of elegance to unique sunken decks, we’re taking a look at a variety of stylish and practical ideas to take your garden — quite literally — to the next level.
1. Keep it safe and sturdy with a decking balustrade
If you want your design to stand the test of time, consider conventional decking steps paired with a well-crafted balustrade. A stylish balustrade is a great way of enhancing existing or new decking to give it that stylish finishing touch. Plus, they're designed to make your deck safer to use and to stop you falling off it!
There are all kinds of decking balustrade ideas to choose from — including simple timber kits, sleek metal designs, and contemporary glass finishes. Not only will each of these provide your decking with additional support and safety, but some raised decks might even be required to have them to meet Building Regulations.
2. Use different coloured edging to create a ‘picture-framing’ effect
Buck tradition and opt for something a little different like this bold design scheme by Millboard Decking. It makes clever use of different coloured decking board to create a ‘picture-framing’ effect to highlight particular areas. Not only does this design make a stylish statement but it also helps to break up large expanses of decking and delineates different areas of your garden.
Painting decking in contrasting colours is a great way of adding a little personality to your outdoor space. Just make sure you are selecting the best decking paint for the job and you are properly preparing your deck for painting ahead of time.
3. Introduce sweeping curved steps
If you're worried about your decking steps looking boxy or square, try introducing a curved step into your design. These sweeping organic shapes lend a timeless elegance to modern and urban gardens and can add to a sense of spaciousness if you're working around small decking ideas.
"In a natural landscape, nothing beats a sweep of beautifully executed curved steps in warm organic tones," says Tris Simmons, Chief Marketing Officer at Millboard. "The key to this distinctive look is the use of flexible edgings and fascia’s that can be used to form the fronts of steps. The flexibility of the Plas-Pro subframe allows curved steps to be created with ease, helping achieve the perfect curved surface finish whilst saving time."
4. Light the way, one step at a time
Every garden decking terrace needs lighting since it will give your garden an enhanced feeling of style and finesse whilst also making it safer during the darker evenings.
“Simple micro LED lights recessed either side of decking steps can be used to highlight changes in elevation that you may not easily see at night,” explains Karl Harrison, the Trex decking pro. “You could also attach LED strip lights to the underside of decking edging to give the illusion that the steps are floating”.
Karl also suggests introducing other decking lights ideas, such as spike lights placed in planters or planting beds in and around the steps, as these lights are easy to install and can be placed almost anywhere in the soft landscaping. “Warm white coloured lights will add to the romance of the garden, as they appear softer and easier on the eye when compared to bright white illumination”.
5. Step down to a kitchen amphitheatre
"Steps can double up to provide seating, to make the most of restricted space," explains Tris from Millboard. "In the design above, a clever cooking nook has been carved into the deck, creating an elegant cooking area with built-in seating. This curved kitchen ‘amphitheatre’ has been created with flexible edging and boards cut along their length to create a fanned-out board design effect."
6. Create a sunken decking area to relax and unwind
If outdoor kitchens aren't your thing, then why not create a sunken decking area where you can kick back and enjoy the sunshine? Opt for extra wide decking steps in these sunken spaces as they can double as seating if you're tight on space. Introduce soft outdoor textiles like padded cushions and consider highlighting the space with colourful borders or a small balustrade for added safety.
7. Elevate your decking with cascading steps
Cascading decking steps are a popular design feature as they can easily wrap around a deck or the edges of a deck. They also provide a real show stopping finish that can take your garden design to the next level (pun intended) and add to an overall sense of grandeur.
Don't fall victim to common decking mistakes. If you're going to commit to a cascading steps design you need to make sure the deck itself is big enough to make this work. Cascading steps often work best when they interlock with decking platforms like the deck pictured above with a cleverly built-in hot tub.
8. Keep things tidy with integrated steps
A cohesive and neat look can be achieved by considering how your steps align with garden outbuildings. In the design above, NeoTimber decking has built integrated steps that flow down from this stylish home office. The neat appearance of these steps enhances the overall appeal of the space and maintains a sense of order and harmony.
9. Use slip-and trip-resistant steps for added practicality
The age old debate of wood decking vs composite comes into play when considering the practicalities of decking steps.
"Making steps as slip-free as possible is important," explains Tris from Millboard. "Bear in mind that timber can be slippery when wet, especially if it is not regularly maintained. If this is a concern, look for a composite material that doesn’t contain any wood to reduce the likelihood of algal or fungal growth, and ask for the wet slip-resistance rating of the material you are considering using. Additionally, you could opt for a product that has a softer, pliable surface, such as Millboard which has a Lastane top layer; a material akin to that used in the soles of trainers".
If you do opt for timber decking steps, learn how to clean decking without damaging it and you should avoid slippery surfaces under foot.
10. Plant colourful floral borders around your steps
Add a burst of life by planting colourful floral borders around your decking steps. Vibrant planting or even painting decking with lively hues can transform ordinary steps into stunning design features that uplift the garden's entire mood. A different colour trim can also delineate the steps more clearly, helping to prevent trips.
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Gabriella is Homebuilding & Renovating's Assistant Editor. She is a DIY enthusiast and a lover of all things interior design. She’s spent the past decade crafting copy for regional publications, award-winning architects, and leading UK homeware brands.
She has a particular passion for historic buildings and listed properties, and she is currently in the process of renovating a Grade II-listed Victorian coach house in the West Country. At Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine, Gabriella is responsible for curating the magazine's home case studies and regularly contributes to the Homebuilding website.